Game On! Classic Games and Toys Use Social Media to Win Over New Fans and Customers

On Monday, as part of his presentation, Jackson described a bit about how everyday people have become significant influencers for brands due to the quality and ubiquity of the social media they produce related to specific products. Coincidentally, on Tuesday, I found myself learning from Eric Nyman, Vice President of Marketing at Hasbro, how social media has played a role in the development and evolution of certain products. Drawing on his experience and perspective from over a dozen years as a marketer for prolific brands such as Hasbro, Dunkin, Timberland, and Lego, Eric cited the relevance of social media to brands that we’re already highly familiar with. That is, social media offers a) Multiple channels through which to increase brand recognition b) Methods to cultivate communities of product users c) High return on investment d) The ability to establish and learn from customer engagement. It is this last benefit that I seek to elaborate on using examples from Hasbro product lines.

Nerf or Nothing

 I’m ashamed to admit that even into my teenage years, I played an immense amount with Nerf toys, specifically the “blasters” (Nerf’s word for guns that shoot foam darts, balls, and other projectiles). My friends and I would have epic Nerf battles throughout our neighborhood, much to the displeasure of our neighbors. A couple of weeks ago, I Tweeted out a link to a New York Times article about the trend of parents being over protective of kids and not letting them “roam free” as me and my buddies would do as part of our “Nerf wars.” Contrary to the suggestions of the article, there are still a huge amount of kids who play freely outdoors and with Nerf blasters in hand. Not only is America’s youth still having Nerf wars, but the advent of camera phones and GoPros has enabled kids to videotape their battles and then post them on YouTube. Production of these videos has a broad range but they are hugely popular. One of my favorite, a semi-staged video entitled “NERF War: Protect and Secure” by NerfBoyProductions has a dedicated cameraman (instead of one of the participants filming the action), involves a four wheeler, and clearly made use of editing software. It has gained over 1.2 million views!

An astounding 188,000 Nerf-related videos from kids age 5-18 years old have been posted on YouTube which have gained over 1.7 billion views. One of the notable creators and producers of Nerf videos on YouTube is Dude Perfect which is not simply one “dude” but a group of five best (male) friends and a Panda (no, not a REAL panda but someone dressed in a panda suit). To me, Dude Perfect seems like a handful of stuck-in-child-mode young men (one of them even has a beard) with way too much time on their hands, but the extremely challenging shots they devise with their Nerf weaponry is highly entertaining. And Nerf has taken notice. Reports Sportingnews.com:

“Marketers such as Gatorade, General Motors, LG, and Nerf have teamed with Dude Perfect to create sponsored videos. The Dudes are almost as good at native ads as they are at trick shots. They’ve become experts at weaving brands and products into videos. For a price of course.” 

If all of the YouTube action weren’t enough enough, the Twitter hashtag “nerfornothing” is highly active, providing followers with information on new products and links to Nerf videos on both YouTube and Vine.

Monopoly Here and Now Edition

I also grew up playing a lot of Monopoly and was intrigued to learn about a recent initiative, highly driven via social media, that has contributed to a new edition of the game. In September 2006, the U.S. edition of Monopoly Here and Now was released. The edition features top landmarks across the U.S. which were plugged into the game thanks to fan voting via the Internet in the spring of 2006. This year marks the game’s 80th birthday, and has prompted Hasbro to initiate another online vote in order to determine which cities will make it into an updated version of the Here and Now. However, this time around Hasbro will release a World edition with the top-voted cities from all around the world. To market the game and gain voters, Hasbro teamed up with social news and entertainment company BuzzFeed to facilitate voting at www.VoteMONOPOLY.com. Additionally, Hasbro publicized the opportunity to vote via Twitter (using the hashtag #VoteMONOPOLY) and through its Facebook site. Voting just closed out on March 4th but not before 4 million fans registered their votes. The winning global destinations to be used in the new edition of Here and Now appear below.

Monopoly

Though Monopoly has been played by more than one billion people in 114 countries around the world, you have to assume that this vote-for-new-woldwide-destinations initiative and related social media campaign may result in an increase in those numbers.

Twister

 Another classic game, but one that I didn’t spend much time playing as a kid, is Twister. Surprisingly, the game has a strong presence on social media which is contributing to its continued popularity. The product has broadened from the original mat and spin dial game that you’re probably most aware of to additional toys and games that get younger people moving and have an emphasis on girls health. New products under the Twister brand such as Skip It are now being endorsed by actress, singer, and songwriter Demi Lovatic on videos that appear on YouTube.

Demi Lovato’s sponsorship of Twister products has extended onto Twitter when Lovatics (the label for loyal Demi Lovato followers) and Twitter fans got together on March 10th to play “The Biggest Game of Twister Ever.” At 4pm that day, Demi took over the Twister Twitter handle “@Twister” and issued moves to worldwide players. After Demi called out/posted moves, it was up to fans to take a photo or video of their moves to match Demi’s instructions and tweet it back to her (@Twister with the hashtag #LetsMove).

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Demi Lovato with Twister wheel

Key Takeaways

 I love the nostalgia of Nerf, Monopoly, Twister, and other games from the Hasbro brand. It interesting to see that Hasbro hasn’t sat idly allowing such games to “collect dust,” but has leveraged technology and social media to keep them appealing to newer and current-day audiences. Additionally, the global reach of tools like Twitter and YouTube has allowed the brand to gain a stronger worldwide reach and build larger communities of fans.

In closing, I think it’s appropriate to note that Eric seemed to posit that social media will have an ever-expanding role in the marketing of Hasbro products. He realizes that neither he nor others at Hasbro really have much control over the social media posts that Hasbro game users create related to the company’s games and toys. However, ultimately, the extremely creative nature of such posts and the high number of eyeballs that they reach are currently an immense force multiplier for, and huge benefit to, the Hasbro brand.

5 comments

  1. Really fun post. It’s awesome to see that social media and the Internet, in general, have allowed for a revival of sorts for these classic games. Not only is social media a great way to gauge reaction to new products, but it’s also a great way to crowdsource innovation, by seeing the way that people are using a product. Another way social media is useful is for creating brand advocates such as the guys who are filming these Nerf videos, that essentially create free advertising for companies like Nerf. It’s great to see that companies are capitalizing on this in a somewhat organic way by having these guys create sponsored content. I also see this type of thing happening on Vine a lot, as well. Thanks for sharing!

  2. What a great post. Love all of these examples!

  3. Great post! I also went to Eric Nyman’s talk last week and found it interesting how Hasbro is really leveraging social media in their marketing tactics. I was actually working on a very similar post, so I’m glad I saw this one and was able to change my topic! He was such a passionate speaker and a great example of how important it is for managers to be aware of the benefits social media can offer. I thought it was awesome how he was able to identify Demi Lovato as someone who was both a great pairing with their brand, as well as someone who was already such a star in her social media use, and then reach out and successfully partner up. I also loved the Monopoly crowd-sourcing idea and could not believe that some of the top vote getters were some of the more obscure places like Lima and Riga! It is clear that Eric has moved up to senior management in large part because he is able to constantly innovate and come up with new ideas, and it is neat to see that social media has been a huge part of that.

  4. I always find it fascinating to see how different companies are using social media. In my Communication and Promotion class we’ve recently talked about the importance of using paid, earned, and owned media, and it seems like Hasbro really has a handle on earned and owned. Their Nerf fans on YouTube are providing lots of earned content, and giving them an avenue to turn that into paid content by sponsoring popular users. Their campaigns for Monopoly and Twister are great examples of how to use owned content to connect with customers and create buzz. I also think it’s great that Hasbro is coming up with ways to keep these games alive and current; I have fond memories of them! Awesome post!

  5. This was super fun to read! I absolutely agree that Hasbro has done an outstanding job continuing to engage their target market and adapt as needed. It would be easy to maintain a reputable as the “old school game” company, but they are taking a head-on approach to meet their consumers in the digital space. They seem to not be degrading the brand but just elevating it with social media. I heard from the Vice President of Digital at Hasbro last year and absolutely loved his stories about engaging customers with social media contests and responsing in the “right” voice for a toy company. Thanks for posting!

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